MANILA The Office of the Ombudsman has indicted a former town mayor in Bulacan province and 10 other local officials before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly allowing the continued operation of a dumpsite in their area of jurisdiction in 2015 despite a closure order.
The anti-graft body sued former Paombong, Bulacan Mayor Isagani Castro for violation of Section 48(9) in relation to Sections 37 and 49(d) of Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Other named respondents are former Vice Mayor Marisa Ramos, Sangguniang Bayan members Myrna Valencia, Luisito Arellano, Francisco Valencia, Maximo Tanghal, Reynaldo Sulit, Arnaldo Mendoza, James Jester Santos and Zoilo Estrella, and Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer Marciana Tanghal.
The Ombudsman also found incumbent SB members Mendoza, Santos, Estrella and MENRO Tanghal guilty of gross neglect of duty. They were ordered suspended for one year.
In its complaint, the Special Panel of Investigators from the Environmental Ombudsman said the respondents continued to allow the operation of an open dumpsite in violation of R.A. 9003.
It discovered that as early as 2011, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Office (DENR RO) issued a notice of closure directing the local government unit of Paombong to cease and desist from operating an open dumpsite located in Barangay San Isidro II, Paombong, Bulacan, and rehabilitate the area.
On July 3, 2015, inspectors from the Environmental Management Bureau Region III inspected the waste disposal facility and found that the municipality still maintained an illegal open dumpsite.
On July 20, 2015, the DENR RO once again ordered the closure of the dumpsite and directed the concerned government officials to ensure its full closure before the end of July 2015.
On Nov. 20, 2015, an inspection and monitoring team from the DENR found that the dumpsite was still operational.
In August 2016, members from the Environmental Ombudsman team conducted a separate ocular inspection and found that the dumpsite is adjacent to the Labangan Channel (Angat River) and fishpond area located within a nearby residential area.
The proximity of the garbage and fishpond is less than one meter with some garbage already reaching the waters of the Labangan Channel.
The team also found that trash was dumped without segregation.
A follow-up inspection was conducted on Oct. 6, 2016 which yielded the same results.
In its resolution, the Ombudsman said the implementation and enforcement of R.A. No. 9003 is expressly conferred upon local government units. In this case, respondents, as the principal officials of the Municipality of Paombong, Bulacan, not only glaringly failed to perform their legal duty, but likewise blatantly and with impunity violated the law by unabashedly operating an open dumpsite. The establishment and operation of open dumps by any person, including local government units, are prohibited and penalized under R.A. No. 9003.
The proscription became effective when the law took effect on 15 February 2001. Five years thereafter, [or in 2006], even the operation of controlled dumps was no longer allowed, it added.
In this case, it has been established that as of 2017, the local government of Paombong, Bulacan has been operating an open and controlled dumpsite for 12 long years, the resolution said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency